Advantages of online psychological support and psychotherapy

How could it be otherwise, online psychological services also offer several advantages, especially in the current pandemic situation.

“In the first place, online services help people in a short time, reducing the risk of contagion and the strong feeling of anxiety in both psychotherapists and patients, who feel uncomfortable doing traditional psychotherapy due to the pandemic.”

This is stated by Békés and Aafjes-van Doorn, in this year 2020. This feeling of insecurity due to possible infections is logical.

Other authors in the field of psychology, such as Pietrabissa (2015) identified some of the main advantages of telepsychology, “such as the reduction in waiting for the consultation, because it is done from home or from the workplace, saving time and expenses, lower travel and rental costs for the office, for those who provide the service and for those who use it ”.

According to almost all the authors, online psychological services facilitate access to people who struggle to find support close to their social environment, avoiding difficulties related to mobility.

Also, online services help people who are less confident in psychotherapy.

In fact, most online psychotherapy takes place in one’s comfort zone, making it easier to express problems and feelings.

From the AEEN we are as concerned as in the rest of associations and institutions, both Spanish and European, with regard to the consequences that Covid-19 can have (in fact it does) for the mental health of the population.

Any reference that we make in this regard will be welcomed, in this case by the groups we are targeting, postgraduate students, professors, as well as all kinds of institutions and third parties to whom our opinion may be of interest to cope with the rest of the time that we will have to continue facing the most important health crisis of the last hundred years.

The strength of the online tool Depending on the situations, the online services may provide a different medium. For example, another very useful tool such as chat can be taken into account. This allows to establish a first evaluation of a person who feels uncomfortable when using a video.

In fact, online psychotherapy is perceived as more “acceptable”.

Each person has a different experience of the network and various levels of disinhibition. Not all people, of course, react the same to the tool, even if they know that they are using it for the benefit of their health and well-being.

This has to do with the processes of disinhibition, which of course are not the same in all people. If this is the case of someone who has a mild disinhibition, it could be a person who chooses to ask for help to speak with a psychologist about their problems; while high disinhibition could be represented by flaming, an expression of online bullying or cyberbullying.

The integration of psychological services with others that are given online

Online psychological services must necessarily be integrated with the different territorial services to which a citizen has access, so that the patient can be provided with all local references in relation to specific health and economic needs.

Finally, the possibility for the therapist and the patient to record the sessions through chat and in audio / video mode, with the informed consent of the participants, provides another useful tool to compare the sessions and highlight the positive results and the effectiveness of the therapeutic process.

Psychological and social suffering and the empathic process

Many have been the analyzes that have been made during these long months of the pandemic on the psychological impact that it has had on the different populations of the planet.

No country has been exempt from this need to know the mental health of its citizens. What does happen is that each nation has taken it into account in a different way, not so much in terms of how to carry it out, but in terms of the priorities that were given, because in a majority of countries in which it was occurring a collapse in hospitals got out of control due to the outbreak peaks that the Covid-19 was having.  

I am a citizen, part of society

When analyzing the psychological impact of quarantine, the importance of individuals feeling an integral part of society emerged, an aspect that is often undervalued in psychological well-being.

But without a doubt, the consensus on a global scale from public health experts remains that social distancing is the best solution to prevent the spread of the virus.

Although it is not possible to predict the duration of the pandemic, what we have experienced until this month of December 2020 after ten months of confinements and restrictions, in addition to the protection measures, is the serious impact that these measures have had on the social psychology because depressions and other issues arise that are directly related to having changed the usual, that is, social relationships and interactions, which has affected the empathic process.

What panorama do we find then?

On the one hand, people identify with those who suffer (neighbors, friends, family members who are experiencing stressful events), promoting activities such as the so-called “suspended expenses”.

This is the case of solidarity and humanitarian activities, for example, the delivery of food and medicine for people who cannot go to the supermarket.

On the other hand, there is a part of the population that experiences a feeling of “forced empathy”.

What does this expression mean?

This aspect could also be emphasized by the use of technological devices that could lead to a depersonalization of relationships, forcing the feeling of closeness, at least virtually.

Let’s assume that one person meets another, and faced with the normal question of a lifetime “how are you?”

At the beginning of a conversation, it is no longer just a formality, as before the pandemic.

It is much more than that: it is the need to listen to a feeling of concern as well as solidarity.

In other words, empathy. We can conclude that “forced empathy” may be common in this period, since social distance and the health emergency situation in which thousands of cities around the world find themselves have a positive impact on relationships because people want to be heard and appreciated, and the simple question “how are you?” it ends up being like that pat on the back of support from a partner or the hug from a relative, even though they do not really have this relationship.

Antonio Alonso, president of the AEEN (Spanish Business School Association) and general secretary of EUPHE (European Union of Private Higher Education).